Four Problems in Campus Planning
Who does not want to study in an ideal campus environment? Who does not hope for a better planning of our second home? It is ordinary that we users have requirements and expectations towards campus planning. The truth is, however, that many disadvantages have existed in the campus planning, arousing much dissatisfaction. They are based on the following four problems accumulated long. Firstly, some facilities are of low efficiency and like decorations. Secondly, the designs are non-user-friendly due to the University’s insufficient understanding about users’ needs. Thirdly, the University has been ignoring students’ opinions, making no prominent improvement. Fourthly, the University was short-sighted that it lacked a long-term and sustainable campus planning, without insistence of the objects of the planning. Below a number of examples would be listed to illustrate and prove the above problems. They may sound ridiculous, but they are still much less ridiculous than UST’s campus planning is.
Imagine seeing the bright red sundial on the center of Piazza walking on the path between Piazza and the bus stop at North Gate, refreshed by green and trees alongside. You are enjoying the scenery until you find that…
There is a small “safety island” opposite to the Entrance and between two-way roads, with a path paved with several bricks. It was students who paved their way. The Univeristy then did not grow grass there to make there green again but instead paved bricks on that “Broad Road” - the smaller path on the small “safety island”. You don’t know whether the University would like to treasure it or they were mean - anyway you never get the way they do. Moreover, it might be beyond their expectation that the usage rate of “Broad Road” has been low. One can say that it has no use at all and is redundant. Meanwhile, you do not understand why the University did not build the wind turbine on the windier seafront; you do not understand how much the utility of the solar power devices is as the trees block some of the sunlight. Although these facilities near North Gate are of low utility, you should be glad that they are not white elephants but are still in a small scale.
But, our fellow students, there are more low-utility facilities besides those mentioned – that is not rejoicing.
For example, many performances take place in Atrium every year. The University would provide stage boards for performances. If you are told that students are not allowed to jump on new stage boards and performances like rope skipping are forbidden, I believe you may think it is unimaginable. It is a pity that it is real: the University claimed that they were too fragile to support the pressure brought by the rope skipping performers, so it was forbidden. That is unfortunate to have such a coincidence. Everyone knows that the stage boards are used for various forms of performances and it is normal to include jumping motions sometimes. The University should have checked if they were safe and reliable to bear the pressure from performers when they bought. Otherwise, what is the use to buy them? Or are they just decorations in performances as icing on the cake?
Bodies and affiliate societies of the Students’ Union have to face a “little” trouble as well that they are often worried that they may miss their mails. Their mailboxes are the small plastic drawers of the cabinet near Students' Union General Office on LG5. This type of cabinets is often seen in offices for staff use; it is easy to put things in and take stuff out as one just needs to pull the drawers without locks. Those who do not know the use of that near the Office may think they are used to categorize and place minor documents or leaflets. We do also often think of the risk of missing mails. Could they be called “mailboxes”? When we were small, our parents and teachers taught us that small things matter. It is hoped that the University will improve and understand that they will fail in doing great matters if they do not do trivial ones well.
此外，縱使根據科大建築設計師關善明先生在某訪談中的說法，創校之初，校方不想科大如中大般在校舍內使用巴士交通，但近日有聞校方慮及商學院大樓偏於校園南面，欲改變初衷，正構思購入環保電動車作穿梭巴士。雖論校園的自然環境，科大、中大皆依山而建，大體相似，但問題是，當中科大地盤比中大的還斜，中大亦無科大獨有的那道長長的大斜彎，所以中大的安全顧慮不大，穿梭巴士才不成問題。放諸科大則不然：科大學習的地方在山上，宿舍在山下的海傍，區隔顯然分明，異於書院如小區般林立的中大。偏偏，撇除升降機，貫通山上山下的通道，就只有大斜彎一途，彎曲陡峭，絕非平直，易生險象，亦走得吃力。除此以外，環保電動車使用率亦高不到何處去。在中大，書院林立，轉堂之際，要乘車到其他書院，繼續上課；但科大課室、宿舍分隔兩地，住宿的同學，通常早上上課，又不想承受上山之苦，或會乘車；但傍晚同學未必乘車下山，可能還是走連接橋乘升降機，也有同學仍在Academic Building 逗留，甚至走出科大，沒那麼快回宿舍。繁忙時段的使用率不見得處於高峰，遑論其他時段，但其他時段的使用率根本無關政策目的，任它多高，亦無助於證明，穿梭巴士緩解步行上學之苦的成效，可謂矛盾。
In addition, according to the claim of our campus designer Mr. Kwan Sin-ming in an interview, although the University did not intend to use shuttle buses as transport in the campus like Chinese University (CU) did, it is heard that the University would like to change its mind by taking the idea of installing environmental electrical shuttle buses into account. Though the natural environment of UST and CU is similar that they are both built on the hill, the UST construction site in the past was steeper than that of CU while there is no big steep curve in CU but UST. For CU, there are fewer safety concerns and shuttle buses cause no troubles. In contrast, UST with places for study on the top and halls at the foot of the hill, which has a distinction, are different from CU with colleges like districts. But except lifts, the big steep curve is the only passageway though: accidents easily happen; it is tiring to walk along. In addition, the utility of environmental electrical shuttle buses would not be high. CU students have to go to other colleges by vehicles for the next lessons. Meanwhile, in UST, classrooms and halls are divided into two sides. If hall residents have lessons in the morning, they may take the buses in the morning to prevent from suffering from walking upwards. But they may return via Bridge Link and lifts in the evening, still stay in Academic Building or even go outside UST. So the usage rate at peak hours may not be at peaks, let alone that at other periods. Paradoxically, the usage rate at other periods is even not related to the aim of such policy and thus is useless to prove the effort of these buses to alleviate the pain and suffering in walking to attend lessons.
Inconvenience Due to a Lack of Understanding about Students’ Needs
Facilities should take care of users’ needs. Students are also users indeed; they are the main users due to a higher population. Nevertheless, the University does not really understand their needs during planning, so the facilities built could not make users feel convenient. It is believed that such consequence is not the University’s intention and that is irony.
The University replaced the lockers. Also the application fee has decreased from $150 per year with renew for free to $50 per year for new application and renew, showing more flexibility. It is wholeheartedly appreciated. Nevertheless, the University intends to atatch an acrylic plastic board each on both sides of the lockers and plans to receive advanced booking 2 months before or deposit of $200 each from student organizations for them to put posters of A3 size each, cleaned onece a week. More plastic boards would be added if the outcome is ideal. Then it is not worth compliments but criticisms. This will hurt the rights and benefits of the users and owners and deteriorate the image. If any other poster or leaflet is post on the surface, the cleaning staff would also have to clear these and bear more workload. On the other hand, others may take the risk to post them, hoping that the University would not be fast enough to clear them within a week. If they succeed, they can save the deposit supposed to pay. Posting will be encouraged in disguise. The University is so unwise to look for troubles. A day’s connivance is still connivance; similarly, the government forbids any post on public facilities in the street. If the University does not stop this act but encourage this bad trend, it can’t be helped in the future. Furthermore, education is to teach and nurture. “The Great Learning” (“university” in Chinese) in the homonymous Confucian classic means more than erudition; it also means a learning to foster gentlemen. "What the great learning teaches, is to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence." How could a university leading to demoralize its students and acting against “the Great Learning” set a good example? The University is going to ridiculously desire to stir up trouble in the whole campus. Actually, a way with common sense is to lay it on the table at once and add notice boards to get at the root of the problem. But it is said that the University has already ordered about 200 plastic boards. We can only wait and see.
Several UST Card Add Value Machines are set up opposite to ARRO on 1/F, beside PARKnSHOP on LG7 and in Seafront Cafeteria for students to add value with cash. These machines, however, have been blamed by USTers: they disturb USTers as they often do not operate well and banknotes, no matter broken or brand new, are rejected anytime; they are even out of order and USTers are accustomed to see relevant notices. The setting up of these machines was originally for students do not have to go to Service Center and can just add value easily when they pass through Concourse during lecture breaks and LG7 Canteen or Seafront Cafeteria near halls when having a meal. But because of the malfunction, students have to find other machines running well. Especially as the machines are so far from one another. If in Concourse, you may still take Lifts 17-18 to Financial Office (FO) on 5/F; if, however, on LG7, you will face a dilemma. One hurried to pay the air-conditioning fee would feel impatient, frustrated and depressed when the machine in Seafront Cafeteria is out of order. If the University cannot maintain the normal operation of the machines and reduce malfunction greatly, they may ask students to direcly go to FO or Souvenir Center on G/F. Setting up an Octopus Card add-value machine as well may be more welcome by students.
另外，細心留意，會發現，來往宿舍和Academic Building 的升降機有如此規律：據觀察，途中升降機每邊三個，晚上乘搭時，通常要等到一部在頂層，一部在底層，一部正在移動；有兩部在同一層，則不會同時載客移動。實況如何，同學不妨親身驗證。但若果然如此，效率何在？假如校方設計程式時，能將心比己，或會得出稍為人性化的規律。
On the way there are three lifts each side to and fro halls and Acedemic Building. Based on observation at night, their operation patten is like this: one has to wait until one on the top floor, one on the lower floor and one moving; if two are on the same floor, they would not carry passengers simultaneously. You may try seeing how the reality is. So, how is the utility if the situation is so? If the University had been in users’ shoes when designing the program, they might gain a more human-based pattern.
What’s more, students often group together in their floors’ common rooms for entertainment, reading, writing, homework discussion or just a chat. When exams come, common rooms would also be used for self-studying. They may reach the illumination system of balcony at the time. It is easy to observe that the lights are on only when the system sneses the student’s movement, and turns off automatically if the user stays still for a long time. Maybe the University is trying its best to be environmental friendly, but here is the problem: people don’t move wildly when they are sitting, so it is difficult for the system to sense their movement. As a result, the sitting people need to move themselves regularly to keep the lights on. The University fails if they adopt the system in order to save energy: if the lights are frequently turns on and off, actually not much energy can be saved. What’s worse, the life of light bulbs would be shortened, and this is a waste in resources.
李兆基商學大樓興建以後，住宿的同學麻煩又多了，事關Hall 10 至12 尚未興建，第一至第九座宿舍與商學大樓相隔甚遠，山長水遠無捷徑。平日在北閘下車的同學，同受遠行之苦。除了構思中的穿梭巴士，配套欠奉。同學到商學大樓上課，諸多不便，要麼乘升降機到Academic Building，走到南閘；要麼行大斜鍛鍊身體，猶如新歲行大運，足以「來回地獄又折返人間」。也許效法當年中共所謂「二萬五千里長征」，堅信人定勝天，立志為先，再稍微改動毛澤東當年詩句如下：「學子不怕遠行難，萬水千山只等閒。」開解自己，意志彌堅。
After the establishment of Lee Shau Kee Building, it would be more troublesome for hall residents. Hall X to XII haven’t been built yet, and the rest of the halls are too far away from the Lee Shaw Kee building, without any shortcuts. Students also have to walk a long way from North Gate. No supporting facilities are provided except the proposed shuttle bus. To arrive at the building, students either use the lifts to arrive at Academic Building first and then walk to South Gate, or hike up the big slope to build up your body and determination as well.
Facilities near Lee Shau Kee Business Building are also non-user-friendly. Additional stairs are built between the roundabout near LTK and South Gate bus station. The situation has slightly improved that users can go upstairs and downstairs simultaneously, but the stair is just one with the same width while the path above has not been widen according to the stairs. It looks like a funnel. In short, the design does not improve much due to a lack of understanding about users’ needs.
Negligence of Opinions Brings No Improvement
The third problem has been the University’s mistake. We show our deep regret that the following can be even seen in our earlier detailed reports, but they have still not been corrected. Here the details would be retold. We hope that the University will face the problem this time so that it will be worth reporting again.
Water has been leaking out of the cover of Atrium for years, causing a genuine “stuructual problem”. It is poetic to see the fine rain fall down; it is especially great with a distance, thanks to the cover. One would feel disappointed and disturbed when raindrops drop on his or her head, though. The situation was already reported in 1999. Now it is still so after times of repair during these 14 years.
There are recent ones as well. An article in “WINGS - High Fly Post 20.2” a year ago listed a lot about the South Gate. All remain unchanged except the stairs. Obviously the University has ignored students’ voices. Some of them are listed below:
第一，Academic Building 內雖有所謂「Skywalk」通往Lifts 31-32，但南閘沿途通道並無頂蓋，配套遠遜北閘，同學經過，須經歷「好天曬，落雨淋」，沒帶傘的，只能自求多福，何以至此？一言以蔽之，「南轅北轍」四字，正正能夠貼切形容南北閘配套情況。
First, although there is “Skywalk” towards Lifts 31-32 in the Academic Building, the pathway at South Gate is not covered, which is worse than that at North Gate. The sun would shine upon students when they pass through. It would be more troublesome for those without umbrellas in rain.
Second, the path is rough that rainwater would be accumulated when raining. After that, students have to pass through the car park without any pavements and hence face a higher chance to suffer from accidents. This planning without any common sense ignores the safety of pedestrians and the fact that they are also road users and thus road safety includes pedestrians’. What the students passing through South Gate want is just to go to UST and home safely; they do not want to take risks. Can the University take account for accidents, if any? How would the University handle with them then?
Third, the needs of the disabled are neglected. As mentioned, the stairs is one of the problems. However, not only does the University understand the needs of general users badly, but also completely ignore the needs of the disabled. No slopes are built for a passageway for the disabled but stairs instead while the path is rough, as mentioned above. So how can those who cannot walk well smoothly pass through? A campus planning of an “obstacle-free campus” should not be like this. Such act could be perceived as discrimination.
Fourth, the glass cover of South Gate bus station does not perform any function practically. It does contribute to transportation and division of crowd and alleviate the pressure at North Gate. Using glass as the material of the cover would cause, however, a “greenhouse effect” thot hot air goes down and its flow is hindered. In the hot sun, users can hardly cool themselves under the glass. The narrow cover could not efficiently keep out wind and rain either. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is exposing itself to ridicule with a campus planning without scientific knowledge. The glass cover does meet the “general rule” of South Gate that the sun shines upon users and the rain falls upon them.
A Short-Sighted Planning against Sustainable Development
For the last, the short-sightedness of planners of the initiation and extension of the construction should be blamed for hurting the long-term development of the campus. It would be briefly mentioned:
Atrium乃科大人頻頻路經之地，課閒更是川流不息。學生組織舉辦活動，自然欲聚集吸引人流，故此處成為兵家必爭之地。大型活動，少不免用到喇叭、咪和擴音器。但別忘了，Atrium 通風得很，聲音向四周擴散，不易集中。可擴散至Atrium 外，但是離場地稍遠的人卻未必能清楚聽見。更離奇的是，校方聲稱傳到G樓樓下的聲音不算集中，反而樓上的辦公室卻會受到滋擾；有同學親身測試，居高臨下，驗證從二樓室內能否聽到Atrium屬會的叫莊聲，卻感受不到半分。再說，科大又有何地可以成為寬敞、人多的公共空間？那個半荒廢的「羅馬廣場」？要讓大量學生參與，最能發揮喇叭、咪和擴音器的功用，除Atrium，實在別無他選。
Atrium is the place USTers frequently pass through. It would be even crowded during lecture breaks. This would be a place at which every student organization would like to hold activities as they would like to attract the crowd. For larger-scale activities, speakers, microphones and amplifiers would be often used. But don’t forget, as it is ventilated in Atrium, sounds spread all around and are not easy to concentrate. It can spread beyond Atrium while those a bit further from the venue may not clearly hear. It is weirder that the University claimed that the sounds spread down to G/F were not concentrated but the Office above would be disturbed. A student tested in person to see if the voices of chanting at Atrium could be heard indoors on 2/F and any bit could not be felt. Moreover, where else in UST can be a wide public space with many people? That nearly negelected amphitheater? There is no choice except Atrium to attract lots of students to join and utilize speakers, microphones and amplifiers most.
The other example is about the overall planning of our campus and is the most important example in this article. Before the analysis, some background information about the disputes about the campus planning blueprint at the beginning of the establishment of UST would be given.
一九八六年，港英政府決定興建科大，其後成立籌委會。翌年籌委會舉辦科大校園設計比賽，特設五人評審小組。連同主席陳乃強先生，有三位投票予冠軍作品，比數不算大；其餘兩位選了其他作品，其中Dr. R. L. Werner，曾任澳洲新州科技學院（the New South Wales Institute of Technology，一九八八年升格為澳洲雪梨科技大學University of Technology, Sydney）校長，選的是亞軍作品。籌委會其後選取亞軍作品。事件因有疑點，引起各界爭議與懷疑。例如籌委會委員在連續兩日會議的態度出現戲劇性轉變，由意見分歧，變成一致傾向支持亞軍作品，棄冠取亞，有關人士則矢口否認期間曾經游說委員。
In 1986, the Hong Kong Government decided to establish HKUST and set up a preparatory committee. The following year, the committee organized UST Campus Design Competition and set up a 5-person jury. Three of them, including the chairperson Mr. Nicky Chan Nai-keong, voted for the champion’s work, with a small margin. The other two voted for others; among them Dr. R. L. Werner, the former principal of the New South Wales Institute of Technology (upgraded to University of Technology, Sydney in 1988), voted for the first-runner-up‘s. The committee then selected the first-runner-up’s. The incident sparked disputes and suspicion due to doubts. For example, a dramatic change existed in the attitude of committee members in the meetings in two consecutive days: they changed from holding diverse opinions to tending to support the first-runner-up’s work unanimously. Relevant persons denied firmly that they had persuaded committee members.
Arguments regarding the reasons of the change of committee members’ attitude varied and every side sticked to its own. It may be easier to look into “overspending of the construction cost”. The estimated cost of the first-runner-up’s work was 2% higher than that of the champion’s. It was said tat the first-runner-up’s needed more site levelling and would easily generate unpredictable construction problems, so the cost would be more. But the cost estimates of every works were very rough that the difference between and the standard and the environment, the degree of inflation, etc. were not taken into account. Reliable budgets would be made only after finishing designing. Even though some thought that the champion’s was “simple, efficient and flexible” that the university managed more securely to begin before 1991, if it was adopted, its actual cost also exceeded the estimate in the competition, according to the estimates of both the champion’s and the first-runner-up’s. In addition, LegCo unanimously passed the budget of $3.548 billion ($1.928 billion by Jockey Club and $1.622 billion granted by LegCo), over one time of the estimate, but some councilors criticized fiercely afterwards. Jockey Club announced the accounts after the construction ended. The expenditure was lower than LegCo’s funding of over $1.6 billion by $300 million i.e. much lower than all budgets and funds LegCo unanimously passed. The above was not known by the public then and thus the misunderstanding of “overspending” was deepened.
不論如何，採用亞軍作品，已成定局。關善明在該訪談中表示，科大建築正如一般傳統建築，務實為先，美化外觀為後，故設計屬於密集式的、「一個天面（屋頂）的設計」，符合「有效運用土地」的要求，亦可節能。而善用空間，加上坐擁山水，亦造成奢華的錯覺。當初在往返學術大樓和Hall 1,2 的通道加設上蓋，成為連接橋，貫通兩地，原意乃便利來往之餘，同時遮陽擋雨。這種設計沒太多裝飾，卻充滿濃厚的人情味，乃「人性的表現」（關氏語）。創建藍圖之精神、立意，奠定立校基礎，並連同科大建築設計，傳承下去。設計造福將來的學生，使我們得益，前人種樹，後人乘涼，不忘感恩，將來回饋母校。筆者亦甚為欣賞、感恩。校方當初應該清楚，隨着科大規模漸大，名氣越高，聲譽益善，地位彌重，學生愈多，擴建即使分期，也勢在必行；及早預算籌謀，堅持務實作風，「Hands on the present and eyes for the future」（恪工知遠），方為上策。但其後落成的宿舍以至商學院大樓，都沒顧及有蓋通道的元素，沒貫徹這原則，似有負創校時規劃者尤其關先生的美意。
No matter what, the work of the first-runner-up has been adopted already. In the interview, Kwan said that practicability came first and beautification of the appearance second for UST’s buidlings, similar to general traditional ones, so the design belonged to a dense, design “with a roofing”, in order to save energy and satisfy the requirement to “use the land efficiently”, with a good use of space based on the natural scenery bringing an illusion of luxury. The intention of building a covered passageway between Academic Building and Halls 1-2 as Bridge Link is to facilitate travel and keep out sun and rain. This design does not contain many decorations but strong human warmth, which is “a performance of humanity” (Kwan’s words). The spirit of the blueprint of building our campus laid the foundation of our university and has been passed on with the design of UST’s construction. The design makes the future students benefit and encourage them to contribute to the University in reward. I appeciate it so much and feel grateful too. The Univeristy should have known that as UST has been having a greater scale, growing fame, nicer reputation, a more important status and more students, the campus must be extended even by stages; it should plan as soon as possible, insist in a pragmatic style and stick to the motto “Hands on the present and eyes for the future”. It is a pity that the halls later built and the Business Building all do not take covered passageways into account and are unworthly of the good intenttion of the planners during the establishment of our campus, especially Mr. Kwan.
Pieces of advice specific to these problems are provided below:
First, as the use of resources is related to public interest, so the expenses should be well spent for the greatest benefits. Low-utility works cannot help much to improve the image of UST.
Second, campus planning should not only be cost-efficient but also user-friendly. So the University should be in students’ shoes as well.
Third, the Univeristy should accept good advice. Campus affairs affect students’ interests. They are also the major users of the facilities in the campus; if the campus planning is running efficiently, they can benefit too. Only with broad consultations and discussions the University can know more about users’ thoughts to fulfill the second advice. By this mean, it will be favorable to the future development of UST.
同時，在此亦展望同學秉持校園共治。容筆者大膽引用沈智慧裁判官，於警司黃冠豪貪$4,000 一案判語：畢竟校方職員，「They are well paid for it!」是其是，非其非；「好要讚，唔好就要彈」。校園規劃重重敗筆，豈能置諸不理？同學同為科大的主人翁，既享有這個校園，也有義務改善我們的校園。因此同學亦應響應校方諮詢，甚或平日主動表達意見。你們想要怎樣的校園？說出來吧！
Here, fellow students are also encouraged and expected to keep on co-governance of our campus. Staff of the University are well paid for it. We should priase what is right and criticize what is wrong. How can we turn our back upon such a flawed campus planning? As the owners of UST, we enjoy the campus and also are responsible for improving it, so we should respond to the University’s consultations and even express our opinions actively. What is your ideal campus? Speak out!
Living in jail?
On 29th April, 2013, UST Student Affairs Concern Group held a campus affairs forum at Atrium about maintainance of students’ rights and interests and acheivement of co-governance of campus. In the forum a student mentioned that the University’s installation of CCTVs in halls sparked intense disputes while it was reported in several newspapers. Students stated that when the University installed CCTVs, student representatives consulted in a meeting showed stong objection. The University, still, added CCTVs at entrances and exits of several halls in the summer break whiel only hall staff could manage the videos and watch them again despite regulations. It was also heard that some staff used the videos improperly to check for illegitimate residents. Students’ privacy was gone. In the meeting the University affirmed that CCTVs were necessary security measures and no staff used them to manage the halls or check for illegitimate residents. After that the Group followed up, discussed relevant matters with the University in several meetings and reviewed the locations of all existing CCTVs. Still, the incident that additional CCTVs were installed during the summer break almost repeated in July this year.
今年七月二十三日下午，有社一宿生發現各層告示板貼有新告示，內容更令宿生驚訝。告示表明，學生宿舍第一座會於二十六日起加裝多部閉路電視，以加強保安（Prevention of crime），及防止有人違規進入學生宿舍第一座（Prevent illegitimate access），並指有關加裝計劃已獲學生宿舍第一座學生代表同意（The installation work has been proposed and agreed by the Residence Master and UG Hall I representatives in March 2013）。小組成員及多名社學生會代表立即約見學務長譚嘉因教授，於二十四日下午與校方討論事件，希望校方擱置有關計畫。引起爭議的主要有兩點：閉路電視安裝位置，及有否得到學生代表同意，即校方之誠信問題。
In the afternoon on 23rd July this year, Hall I residents found that new notices were posted on the notice boards every floor, which contents astonished them. The notice stated that additional CCTVs would be installed in Hall I since 26th for “prevention of crime” and to “prevent illegitimate access” and “The installation work has been proposed and agreed by the Residence Master and UG Hall I representatives in March 2013”. Members of the Group and several House Assocation representatives immediately made an appointment with Professor Kar Yan Tam, Dean of Students, and discussed the incident with the University in the afternoon on 24th to urge the University to lay the plan on the table. Mainly two points initiate the debates: the locations of the installation of CCTVs and whether the student represntatives’ consent was given i.e. the University’s integrity.
The CCTVs added would be located at the exit on 10/F and emergency exits of Hall I. These locations are useless for crime prevention. The exit on 10/F can be opened only from inside; one CCTV has been installed outside; the exit would be lcoked at 11pm; students can not arrive at 10/F via lifts until 7am the following day. On the other hand, alarms would be activated after pushing the doors at emergency exits. House I Association have to ask hall staff for application for deactivation of the alarms if they organize activities that participants need to pass through emergency exits. So, if the suspect leave the hall via emergency exits, the alarms will ring to expose his or her whereabouts; if via 10/F, his or her appearance will be captured by the existing CCTV for the police’s reference to catch the suspect.
In the meeting, the crime rate and crime types of that hall were asked. A Residental Life Officer of Hall I answered that a few voyeur cases happened in the previous term, so CCTVs would be installed. But it was useless to prevent voyeur by installing CCTVs at the locations mentioned. 10/F is the exit residents often use. Students should not be regarded as suspects just because they leave the hall via 10/F at that period of time. The attending students also suspected whether the University thought that it was necessary to install CCTVs at emergency exits because the alarms there were activitated in crimes in the past. The Univeristy could not provide experience or numbers to prove so, though. The Univeristy assumed that the criminal was not any student, but it was only an assumption without any essential evidence. As security factors could hardly stand, what was the purpose for the University to install CCTVs in these areas? I would rather let readers think about this.
I would like to share my personal experience about consulation with students. In June, I was told that SAO has booked several CCTVs and the installation would be scheduled in mid-July. So I asked the University’s senior administrators about the plan in a meeting with them about hall issues in the beginning of July. At that time, they firmly answered that they did not have any relevant plan. It was only less than half a month ago and everyone knows what the result is.
Surprised to see that notice, I asked a House I executive member feeling as surprised as I did and telling me the process of the meeting. That meeting was held during the transition from the existing executive committee members to the elected cabinet in March. Executive members of both sessions were invited to attend the meeting. But maybe because the timing is a bit awkward and the previous cabinet considered that the new cabinet was elected, only four representatives of the new cabinet attended as student representatives in the meeting. For hall staff, the attendees included its Residence Master, its Residental Life Officer and seven Hall Tutors. House I executive committee members recalled that the meeting was maianly to inform and belonged to a formal meeting, but there were no literary records. At that time it was certain that it was mentioned that quite a number of people illegally entered the hall via 10/F. Various plans were suggestd and the installation of CCTVs was one of them, but there was no concensus about handling the plans. Until the meeting on 24th July, House I executive committee members and hall staff members had had no meetings of any other form, while the affected ranges extended from the exit on 10/F to several emergency exits. According to Guidance Note on CCTV Surveillance Practices published by The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, if practicable, the probably affected should be consulted before the installation of CCTVs to know about what concerns they have about the installation. Nevertheless, the University did the opposite and might break its mutual trust with students.
Fortunately, the University accepted the advice. After reflection by about 30 students, the University found that it was based on misunderstanding in communication while it accepted students’ opinions. It would discuss the locations to install CCTVs with students and consult all students to let them decide whether CCTVs would be installed to supervise the hall, the places where residents live and move about. It is deeply believed that once you are a UST student, you can care about campus affairs and have the right to voice out towards the University’s measures. Here, you are encouraged to treasure the opportunity seized by those 30 students to reflect your thoughts actively to the University, making this place become the UST you and I would like to see.